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Candid at Cannes 2015: That’s a wrap!

May 27, 2015

FestivalsFilm + Entertainment | by Francesco Cerniglia


The curtains have been drawn on the 68th Cannes Film Festival which has definitely unveiled lots of interesting titles to watch out for. The last two films I had the pleasure to see before leaving the Croisette were quite different yet both quite interesting and worth checking out.

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The Assassin, in competition, is a tale about a girl sent to live with a nun but who’s instead taught how to be a master assassin and then must return to her home village and kill her cousin, sounds like great material for an action film and in some ways it is. The cinematography doesn’t sensationalise the action, staying steady and mostly letting the movements speak for themselves. However, director Hou Hsiao-Hsien is more interested in the dynamic between the characters rather than the action, which actually works out well as the Assassin, Nie Yinniang (Shu Qi) hides in the shadows. Leaving her mostly a mystery to the other characters is a novel method of developing intrigue. Yinniang must decide whether to spare her cousin (a Lord with significant power) or follow her mistresses’ wishes. Balanced between these two, she explores the virtues of her decision and although there’s not a great deal of urgency to the story which is told and handled simply, the film never turns dull either.

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Alias Maria screened instead as part of the Un Certain Regard section. Maria is a Colombian Guerrilla soldier tasked with the mission of bringing her commander’s baby to a safe zone. Led by her boyfriend, Maria is only 13-years old but must look after the baby on the journey, whilst feeling conflicted about being pregnant herself. Unlike the Commander’s girlfriend, female soldiers are forced to have an abortion, to avoid getting in the way of war. Maria keeps her secret for as long as she can. Piling on the pressure of being a teenager with being a soldier and pregnant, Maria is mostly silent through the film. Her usually loving (and much older) boyfriend is also under pressure to keep the child safe but to train the new child soldier (Erik Ruiz) with warfare. The fact that he’s barely past 10 does not excuse him back-breaking labour and abuse. Raw and brutal, this film was an interesting journey into Colombia and the lives that are being torn apart there.

Cannes can make or break reputations. Gus Van Sant may rethink what kind of film to enter next time, after The Sea of Trees was widely panned (let’s not forget he won the Palme d’Or in 2003 with Elephant), while Pixar/Disney will most likely return with yet another animated feature (Inside Out was warmly received). The ups and downs of the festival are over and now the official winners have been announced and are already looking forward to their progress in future festivals and awards but there are also smaller films that will have a chance to be distributed across Europe and America.

The Jury Prize was awarded to The Lobster by Yorgos Lanthimos, standing out for its imaginative story and dark humour, it was certainly one you wouldn’t forget too soon. Starring Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz, it was a great satire of being single while everyone around you is in a relationship.

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The Best Director prize was awarded to Hou Hsiao-Hsien for the beautiful and patient (without ever being bland) The Assassin. Whilst the Grand Prix went to Son of Saul by László Nemes, a Hungarian film about one man’s attempt to bury his son whilst at Auschwitz. The biggest prize however was given to Dheepan by Jacques Audiard who can be seen holding the Palme d’Or in the photo.

Best Actress was an ex aequo for Rooney Mara (Carol) and Emmanuelle Bercot (Mon Roi), with both their films being widely acclaimed. Meanwhile best Actor went to Vincent Lindon for La Loi Du Marche (The Measure of a Man) who was brilliant as a restrained working man in long close-up shots.

In the Un Certain Regard category, I was happy to see that the Best Director Award was earned by Kiyoshi Kurosawa for Kishibe No Tabi (Journey to the Shore) which tells the story of a woman’s husband returning from the dead with little pomp and circumstance but a rather natural flow. Whilst the Un Certain Regard Award went to Hrutar (Rams) by Grímur Hákonarson, where two brothers must come together to save their rams after 40 years of silence, Zvizdan (The High Sun) was awarded the Jury Prize for its portrayal of three love stories set apart over decades in the Balkans where inter-ethnic hatred was high.

That’s a wrap! ‘Till next year…

Sunny Ramgolam